Coalition seen using leaks to plan cuts, taxes
Coalition seen using leaks to plan cuts, taxes

Dublin cabinet ministers have engaged in widespread leaks this week in an attempt to ‘soften the blow’ of the worst austerity measures and to see how palatable other budget measures were.

Since last weekend it has emerged the likely cuts to be introduced in the 26 Counties include a universal 10 euro monthly cut in children’s benefit for each child, new prescription charges, closures of up to 42 community homes and a 50 euro annual charge to holders of medical cards.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins accused the Taoiseach and his Ministers of “cynical kite-flying exercises” about possible cuts and manipulating the media and the public with “horror stories”.

Many of the leaks have appeared to undermine the position of Labour leader and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, whose promises to defend student grants and child benefit prior to February’s election have been replayed again and again in news coverage.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams called on the Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to give a clear commitment there would be no cuts in child benefit.

“You should take this opportunity to be as clear on this issue as you have been on issues which benefit the elite.

“When you say you can’t take money back out of pensions, when you say you can’t take the bonuses of these big bankers, when you say you have to give 700 million euro to the bondholders, you’re very clear about that,” he said.

“So all I’m asking that you be equally clear here today and say that the red line promises you made in the last election will be maintained in this budget and make it clear that there will be no cuts in child benefit in the budget.”

Mr Kenny said a whole range of issues across every department had been and was being examined.

Last week, it was confirmed that the government intends to impose a 2% hike in VAT sales tax, as well as a universal hundred euro ‘household’ charge.

These measures were inadvertently leaked when advisory budget documents were issued to German parliamentarians -- a requirement, the government said, of the bailout loan issued by the EU and the IMF.

“This is another example of how the sovereignty of this State has been handed over,” Mr Adams told the Dail.

A Sinn Fein protest was held in Dublin on Monday, marking the one-year anniversary of the EU/IMF bailout. It saw about 40 protesters gathered outside European Union House on Molesworth Street.

A garda was accidentally hit in the face with a prop briefcase full of fake money that was being waved in the air by a protester mimicking the bailout bosses.

Sinn Fein’s Seonach Mac Aodh, who organised the protest, said further peaceful and creative protests would be held in the run-up to budget day on December 6th.

Meanwhile, a new appeal for funds by the Society of St Vincent de Paul has been described as urgent for the first time by the charity because of the “horrendous” increase in numbers who require its support.

Calls for help to the society, Ireland’s leading charity for domestic poverty, have almost doubled since 2008. Its members are expected to make an estimated 150,000 visits to homes throughout Ireland between now and Christmas.

“I don’t think we have used that [urgent] before, and the urgency is cause by the increase in the number of people who are coming to us for assistance,” the society said.

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